History of Patten Shoes

Middle Ages was the period when technology of shoe making and fashion trends finally started advancing the manufacture of this very important part of human attire. In the first millennia AD, the majority of European shoes was based on simple sandals and leather shoes made from animal skins that were very uncomfortable and hard to wear and maintain for a long periods of time. It was not until 12th and 13th century that fashionable shoes made for royalties and nobility arrived, and that opened door for manufacture of Patten shoes. Because lifestyle in Middle Ages demanded of wearers of such quality footwear to often walk in public spaces where ground was muddy, wet, uneven, overgrown in vegetation and overall with minimal urban paving on roads, the need to protect those shoes gave birth to special protective overshoes – pattens shoes (word patten was derived from French word “pate” which means paw or hoof). They main objective was to secure themselves to the wearer by leather cloths or bands and elevate foot above the mud and dirt.

Pattens Shoes

In Middle Ages patten shoes (created form wooden platforms, hinged wooden platforms, or stacked layers of leather) were carried by both males and females in outdoor and public areas, where they served as an excellent protection against the unwanted dirt and mud. This protective mechanism was especially popular during 15th century when shoes with exaggerated toe tips were at the heights of their popularity. By 17th century wider availability of metals enabled the creation of patten shoes that consisted of metal ring that was connected with nails to the wooden sole that was several inches off the ground. By that time, male fashion introduced more sturdily made boots with hard soles, and pattens remained in use only by women of high stature (as a help to protect shoes and their very long dresses from touching the ground) and by lower class workers of both sex.

19th century finally marked the end of widespread patten shoes with the arrival of sturdy and cheap rubber galoshes, urban paving, and introduction of dedicated pedestrian public roads – sidewalks.